leadership

A Common Problem with Corporate Culture

 

Robyn Bolton offers a post that illustrates a common issue in today’s workplaces.

Some conversations stick with you for a long time.

Some conversations take your breath away the moment they happen.

A few weeks ago, I had one that did both.

“Everyone is focused on ‘humanizing’ work,” my client said. “I wish people would de-humanize work. I would love nothing more than to be treated like a line of code or a piece of equipment. We treat our code and equipment better than we treat our people.

When a piece of equipment doesn’t work, we send in teams of people to fix it. We study what went wrong, we fix the error, and we take action to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We don’t expect a line of code to work in every operating system, to be able to do everything in every context. We know that we need to adapt it for iOS or Android.”

As I picked my jaw up off the floor and put my eyes back in my skull, she continued.

“But people…when a person is struggling, we don’t send anyone to help. We don’t ask why they’re struggling or study the situation or take action so that no one else experiences the same problem. We expect the person to either fix their own problem or to leave.

We expect everyone to be able to work in every situation and when there’s a mismatch, we expect the more junior person to ‘expand their toolkit’ and ‘learn to work with other styles’ or to leave.

“If we treated our people the way we treat our products, our people would be so much happier, and we’d be so much more successful as a company.

 

Key points include:

  • People vs. products
  • Malfunction and communication
  • Corporate culture

 

Read the full article, The Case for De-Humanizing Work, on Medium.

 

Targeting Corporate Culture and Hitting Bullseye

Jesse Jacoby provides a post that explains why it is so difficult to communicate your vision of the corporate culture you would like to have, and what you can do to articulate the abstract.

Ask 100 managers how they define organizational culture, and you’ll probably get as many different definitions as possible. Even scholars cannot agree; and that means that your definition is as appropriate as anyone else’s. This makes the challenge, however, of creating the culture that you want particularly difficult, because it is almost impossible to hit a target that is ambiguous.

How can you describe something abstract in concrete terms?

How do you say, “This is what I want,” when there is no this to point to?

And how do you say, “I don’t want that,” when you cannot point to it either?

At best, you can only identify parts of instances or results that please or displease you.

Perhaps that is the wrong way, or at least the less helpful way, to look at it.

Before you can decide what culture, you want, you need to consider the elephant in the room. The elephant is that culture, no matter how you define it, is touchy-feely. It is all about the people in your organization and their collective attitudes, expectations, and behavior. And so, whatever you want must be thought of in terms of what they do; how they’ll act and react collectively.

The easiest way to decide what culture you want is to start with someone else’s definition, and then add to it according to your needs.

For example, organizational culture has been described as a kind of personality. When you think about it like that, then you can delineate between the one in your organization and the one in someone else’s. You may not be able to identify all the differences exactly, but at least it will give you a starting point.

 

Key points include:

  • How perceptions factor in
  • Understanding the thoughts-feelings connection
  • Working backwards

 

Read the full article, How to Create the Culture You Want, on the emergentconsultants.com.

 

Leaving As an Exemplary Leader

 

Jeffery Perry shares an article that explains how to leave a leadership position in the best possible way and shape.

Leavership? No, this is not a typo where the “v” is meant to be a “d.” Much has been written about business leadership—the art of guiding and motivating others to achieve a set of goals and objectives. Most business leaders are judged based on performance during their leadership roles. However, leavership is the art of personally transitioning leadership roles in ways that leave organizations better positioned and poised for future success. In essence, the art of knowing how to successfully pass the baton. 

From start-up founders to Fortune 500 CEOs, countless accounts exist of effective leaders who drive significant value for their businesses and stakeholders. Effective leaders often combine qualities that include the ability to inspire, empower, and innovate. These qualities frequently result in purpose-led organizations, clear strategies and visions, resiliency and agility, leading market positions, strong revenue growth, high profitability, satisfied customers, engaged employees, and positively impacted communities. At some point, however, all great leadership runs transition.

The best organizations invest in succession planning for key leadership roles to ensure continuity and ongoing success. Key elements of succession planning include analyses of future business needs, talent pipeline identification and development, and readiness. However, in a recent Korn Ferry global study on succession planning, 32% of respondents were either dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with succession outcomes.

 

Key points include:

  • Client relationships
  • Unfinished business
  • Ideas dialogue

 

Read the full article, Leavership – Knowing How to Pass the Baton, on leadmandates.com. 

 

Key Components in the Evolution of an Organisation

 

Amanda Setili explains how innovation is key to the evolution of an organisation, and how leaders can take action to speed the process.

As much as leaders like to talk about innovation, a more accurate term for the process they wish to employ is evolution. Success in business comes from a lot of small actions and insights that accumulate and work to evolve the organization to a completely different state.

In nature, an individual organism mutates and if it proves successful, then that animal is more likely to reproduce and thus perpetuate their proven trait in subsequent generations. That’s how species evolve, and that’s how your organization needs to adapt.

Almost every day, someone in your company comes up with a better idea, tactic or strategy. In most cases, these advances have a relatively small impact because only a few people know about them. Even within a single department, it’s possible for someone to come up with a better idea and keep it to themselves. So, one sales person gets more effective, but her colleagues don’t adopt her approach, because they are unaware of it.

The way leaders speed up evolution is to help their organization establish a habit of identifying and sharing these incrementally better ideas. (In a similar manner, they can help to eliminate weaker ideas that haven’t made the grade.) To be clear, I’m not talking about giving orders from on top, but rather about reinforcing outcomes that have already emerged within your organization.

 

Key points include:

  • Team leadership
  • Employee recognition
  • Sourcing innovative tactics

 

Read the full article, Speeding Up the Evolutionary Process of Your Company, on LinkedIn.

 

Leading through Disruption

 

In a series of three articles, Belden Menkus explores the impact of Covid on strategy. This first post explores how to lead your organization forward during times of uncertainty.

 

“The future is coming at us faster than ever, and its hallmarks are constant disruption and change. Covid has underscored that. Fighting this uncertainty is futile. So how do you lead your organization forward when it’s increasingly hard to know where ‘forward’ actually is? 

This is the first of three articles in which I explore the impact of Covid on strategy.

Business leaders make sense of what is happening, for their organisations and themselves. The quality of their sensemaking is a key determinant of success or failure. It shapes the threats and opportunities the organisation sees; it limits or opens out what leaders see as desirable or even possible.

But the impact of Covid-19 has been particularly difficult to make sense of, to come to a wise judgement of what it means. As a leader, you need to step back and ask yourself ‘how am I seeing this – and is that a good way?’.” 

 

Key points include:

  • Three mental frames
  • Consistency and continuity
  • Three steps to move forward

 

Read the full article, When the picture is blurred change the frame, on LinkedIn. 

 

Re-imagining the Organization Post Pandemic

 

In this article, Tineke A. Keesmaat shares the results from a series of roundtable discussions on reimagining organizations post COVID-19. 

 

“TILTCO held a series of roundtable discussions in January and February 2021. Attended by business leaders, consultants, academics and experts, the discussions gathered insights and practical ideas to help leaders reimagine their organizations as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The pandemic has turbo charged the move to new ways of working. Hybrid work environments – that is, where there is a mix of in person and remote work happening – were once a theoretical idea that has become a reality. Now, leaders are asking how they can unlock the full potential of the model.  

Our third TILTCO Roundtable focused on building a strong organizational culture in hybrid. Participants offered three key takeaways that are explored below. First, it’s a unique time to re-imagine – with purpose – what type of organization you want to create for your team. Second, leaders need to resist the temptation to simply “virtualize” structures and ways of working from their legacy organization. And, finally, leaders need to start by asking if they are personally ready to make hybrid work.” 

 

Key points include:

  • Recreating the organization
  • Day-to-day team practices
  • Virtualizing in-office structures

 

Read the full article, Hybrid: A Leader’s Opportunity to Re-imagine Culture, on LinkedIn.

 

The Authentic Leader

 

Jeffery Perry identifies the importance of authenticity in leadership and how to achieve it. 

Do you? In the age of “keeping it real,” people in leadership roles are encouraged to project their authentic selves as a prerequisite for top performance and to inspire others. It is almost impossible for leaders to be effective without being true to themselves. This requires looking in a mirror, unapologetically embracing who they are and projecting to the world. However, not all authenticity is helpful in leading others. In addition to a mirror, leaders must also look through a window to understand how their authenticity impacts the people they lead. In essence, striking this balance is selfless authentic leadership.

Words matter. It does not take long for people to know when leaders talk in ways that are forced, insincere, or programmed. Effective leaders recognize that being impactful requires finding their unique voices when verbally communicating to the people they lead. For example, some leaders naturally love sports and communicate with a lot of sports analogies. The good news is that the imagery is often vivid, colorful, and can be a rallying cry for the organization. However, sports may not connect well with people the organization who are not sports fans and they may miss the intended communications.

 

Key points include:

  • Leading others
  • Communication 
  • Creating space

 

Read the full post, Selfless Authentic Leadership Requires Window and Mirror, on LeadMandates.com.

 

How Pat became a Trusted Leader

 

Darryl Stickel shares a candid post on executive coaching, and how working with one mid-level manager revealed the problem and the solution to becoming a more effective executive leader.

One of the primary differentiating factors between good and great leaders is the ability to understand and build trust. The more senior a leadership role we take on, the less direct control we have over outcomes. We become more and more reliant on those who report to us for our own successes. In fact, at very senior levels, all of our goals and aspirations depend on the work of others.

Research and experience have repeatedly shown that higher trust levels within an organization lead to higher levels of employee engagement, organizational citizenship behaviours, profitability, and performance. There is conclusive economic evidence that organizations with higher trust levels perform better. In short, leaders who can build trust will run organizations that perform better and are more likely to be successful.

In this article I will be reviewing the story of “Pat” (not his real name), an executive I coached through various stages of his professional development. Pat’s needs and skill sets changed over the course of his career, but elements of the need to build trust were always present.

 

Key points include:

  • Dealing with a listless and passive team
  • Learning through failure
  • Giving tough feedback 

 

Read the full Story of Pat on TrustUnlimited.com.

 

Welcoming new member Jakob Skovgaard

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jakob Skovgaard. Jakob is an international senior executive with 20 years of P&L, strategy and leadership experience from McKinsey & Co, Arla Foods (dairy) and Danish Crown (meat). Most recently Managing Director Denmark in Danish Crown with 450 mio EUR full P&L responsibility and Global Cheese SVP in Arla with 2+ bn EUR category P&L responsibility. Since last year (2020) Jakob has worked as an independent advisor, consultant and board member. Jakob has particular expertise in running and growing food/fmcg business with a spike in meat/dairy and in strategy as well as all commercial disciplines, i.e. sales, marketing, innovation. Jakob has led several change programs and been focused on growth and transformation throughout his career.

Jakob lives in Denmark with his wife and two high-school age children and enjoys all outdoor activity. Jakob is happy to collaborate on projects within strategy, organization, commercial excellence and optimization within food/fmcg and related industries.

The Business Path to Spirituality 

December 27, 2020

Andy Sheppard explores the connection between business and spirituality and how one can feed the other. 

In my work, I often help leaders to dismantle silos in their organisations. It’s so rewarding to see people thrive and gain new insights as they come together. Somewhat similarly, I have also found that new insights can be unlocked through making connections across different compartments in life. Lateral thinking across parts of life that are typically separate – like our professional life and our spiritual life – can help us to thrive. I believe doing so can help us to lead richer and more integrated lives.

This article shares three connections I have found helpful between my professional life and aspects of my Christian faith. I hope it might offer interesting and fresh insights, whether or not you would consider yourself religious.

Being Hypothesis Driven

I have sympathy for anyone who questions why a search for spiritual meaning should start with Jesus. Thousands of historical and current figures have claimed insight into what gives life meaning and/or how we can live it to the full. Shouldn’t we either listen to them all, or just figure life out for ourselves? And why should we start with anyone who taught a lot about “God” when we’re not even convinced that any deity exists?

When I became a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, I was encouraged to be “hypothesis driven”. This means starting with a hypoth­esis – an educated guess – of where value is and driving towards it. The idea is to benefit from experi­ence and to make rapid progress. It remains rational because the hypothesis should be rejected or modified if disproved by the relevant data, and it is rapid because analysing this data represents only a fraction of the possible analyses. Nevertheless, as an engineer the idea still sat uncomfortably with me: it felt like jumping to a solution too early. My opinion changed when I witnessed what the expert in charge of my first engagement helped us all to accomplish. I would never have believed that so much positive change in processes and culture was possible so quickly – until I saw it happen.

 

Key points include:

  • Six types of sin
  • Toyota’s operational excellence
  • The complexity of simplicity

 

Read the full article, Can Professional Insights Lead to Spiritual Insight?, on LinkedIn.

 

Let’s Make Them Great – Social Sector Partnerships

 

Caroline Taich provides a concise post from her website that is the first in a series of two articles that explores how to improve social sector partnerships.

One component of the question lies in the role of employers.  Intuitively I think we can agree that employers have much to gain from healthy, vibrant communities. But how much should employers invest? And what form should the investment take?

The 2020 SustainAbility Leaders Survey by GlobeScan of 701 sustainability experts across 71 countries can shed some light on the question.  First of all, the survey indicates that the need for sustainability development is more urgent now than ever.  Experts perceive that the urgency of sustainable development challenges is rising across the board – ALL issues tracked in this survey increased in importance since last year.

Challenges on the urgent list include environmental (e.g., climate change #1 and biodiversity loss #2), economic (e.g., poverty #6, economic inequality #7)  and social (e.g., access to quality education #9 and access to quality healthcare #10).

Furthermore, the experts are underwhelmed with the current level of investment borne by employers.  Only 17% of experts feel that employers are doing an “excellent” job addressing sustainable development.

The biggest rationale for employer sustainability development put forth in this survey is resiliency.  The survey draws a connection between internal & external community investment and the very livelihood of the employer itself.

 

Read the full article, How Can We Take Social Sector Partnerships from Good to Great? (part 1),  on KirtlandConsulting.com. 

 

B2B Manufacturing and the Future of the Membership Economy

December 22, 2020

 

Robbie Kellman Baxter shares her latest article with expert insights on the subscription-based business model. This week, she discusses the disruption to the manufacturing industry and three mindset shifts leaders will need to make during the coming year. 

Whether you’re a B2B manufacturer or a supplier to the industry, it’s time to rethink your entire relationship with your customers.

Companies like Dollar Shave Club and Birch Box let consumers enjoy cost savings, convenience and the fun discovery. And Peloton offers video subscriptions so purchasers of their indoor cycling bikes can get more out of their fitness regimen.

Now, B2B manufacturing and the companies who supply the manufacturers are starting to get on the act. The implications are huge. Think of the potential if manufacturers were ‘members’ who could subscribe to a factory line instead of owning it outright. I’m talking about the makers of heavy equipment like jet engines, cranes, combines and, of course, automobiles, but also entrepreneurs designing new electronics products.

Of course, subscription isn’t a totally new concept for the heavy equipment world. Many businesses already prefer to “subscribe” to cranes or trucks rather than bearing the burdens and responsibilities of a major capital expense. But what if you’re a supplier to a manufacturer, or a manufacturer whose primary “customer” is the distributor, not the end-user? If you want to see what the future holds, just look at the “Software as Service” (SaaS) revolution.

 

Key points include:

  • Starting with the service, not the machine
  • Customer focused strategies
  • How to build a Forever Transaction

 

Read the full article, The Subscription Model is Set to Disrupt Manufacturing. Here are 3 Mindset Shifts Leaders Will Need to Make, on LinkedIn.

 

Does Your Brand Connect People to Product?

November 13, 2020

 

In this inspiring podcast, Susan Hamilton Meier and Ross Swan talk about how leadership sets the tone and direction of a brand. 

Branding requires leadership. One can start or have a company with great products or services and doing well in the market. But a brand can be nebulous or inconsistent and it really requires a top-down perspective to define what is it that ties all the products, the people behind it together and what the brand stands for. So that the people on the other end, who are receiving the messaging and using the products or services have a clear understanding of what and who the brand is.

A brand is a reflection of its people and the people reflect the leadership they have.

For larger companies, the challenge is that there are multiple stakeholders and brands. Which results in having a lot of things to align. When dealing with multiple people managing multiple brands, for a company, alignment is really challenging. Simply because people have different perspective.

It’s a two-fold exercise. You have leadership, you have employees which form the corporate brand, then you have product and service brands. The products and service brands have to be congruent with the corporate brand. It’s the congruence that brings about the extent of success.

 

Key points include:

  • Leadership, focus and clarity of message
  • The different branches of the brand
  • Working backwards

 

Listen to the full podcast, Leadership and the Brand Impact, on SoulInspiredLeadership.com.

 

A Case Study on Dysfunctional Leadership

September 19, 2020

 

Priyanka Ghosh shares a case study for services provided to a family-owned European industrial manufacturer that was struggling with leadership issues. 

In the course of driving a growth program for a family-owned European industrial manufacturer, it quickly became clear that the dysfunctional leadership team was a bottleneck to progress. Although the team was composed of capable individuals with impressive track records, the ten team members were unable to agree on a coherent strategy and continued to revisit the same issues. The various departments seemed poorly informed about business activities outside their silos and they were particularly confused about how cross-functional decisions should be made. Gonzalo, the CEO, found himself in constantly firefighting to solve operational issues and placate disgruntled workers. Gonzalo approached ProMelior to bring order and efficiency to the leadership team before the growth program could go ahead.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • The situation
  • The diagnostic
  • The solution

 

Access the case study, Strategic Alignment of Leadership Teams, on the Promelior website.

 

Unraveling the Cognitive Bias of Corporate Leaders

 

Karen Barth explains why the majority of consumer products and corporate transformations fail due to cognitive biases. 

Why do 80% of the 30,000 consumer products launched each year and 70% of corporate transformations fail?

Often business leaders are blinded by cognitive biases, which seriously affect their decision-making – and, as a result, the revenues and welfare of their companies. It can be hard to see these biases from the inside.

Take, for instance, one of Britain’s largest food companies. The CEO and other senior leaders were looking to expand into a new market – in this case, the U.S.

I worked with them to gather data, conduct customer research and review every aspect of building a food business in the U.S., from distribution channels to marketing. A key part of the planning process was focus group research, to be held in five U.S. cities.

I’ll never forget sitting in one such city on the other side of a large one-way mirror with two senior leaders who were assigned to work with me and my team on the expansion strategy. Within minutes of the group’s start, I saw expressions of shock on their faces.

The facilitator was trying to get twelve American participants to taste steak and kidney pie, one of the most popular dishes all of the U.K. They saw with their own eyes that the Americans wouldn’t even taste it. I witnessed one senior executive scream at some of the participants, he was so frustrated. “Just taste it you idiots.” he yelled at the Americans from behind the sound-proof mirror.

 

Read the full article, Doesn’t Everyone Think (and Eat,) Like I Do? A Taste of Bias, on the Cognitive Edge website.

 

Welcoming new member Marcia Spitalney Nuffer

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Marcia Spitalney Nuffer with BlueShor.  Marcia Nuffer spent 21 years at McKinsey. For roughly the first half, Marcia was a strategy consultant focused on helping organizations realize their business goals through organizational change and leadership development. In 2003, Marcia became McKinsey’s Chief Learning Officer. In this role, Marcia was responsible for building one of the most lauded global leadership development programs in the world and leading strategic people initiatives for the firm.

Today, Marcia has her own consulting firm, BlueShor, focusing on leadership and talent development, executive coaching, and people strategy. While serving companies and nonprofits of any size, Marcia has a particular interest in manager development at high growth companies.

Marcia is happy to collaborate on projects related to leadership and talent development – both strategically and programmatically – and talent strategy. She is also open to executive and team coaching opportunities. While Marcia’s major focus is the Atlanta area, her long-term global experience and the possibilities of remote work enable her to collaborate internationally as well.

Using COVID-19 to Your Advantage

 

Dan Markovitz shares why COVID-19 provides the opportunity to institute change. 

“You’ve heard it countless times before: 

‘People don’t like change.’

‘Change is hard.’

‘Change activates people’s lizard brain. They’ll fight you or run away.’

‘People don’t mind changing. They don’t like being changed.’

You hear these complaints so often that you’d think they’re inscribed in the 10 Commandments by now. (They’re not, by the way.)

Sure, there’s plenty of truth in those sayings, but the good news is that right now—in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak—they’re less relevant than ever. If you want to make a change at your organization, now’s the time to do it. 

The habits that people develop are like ruts in a dirt road. Whether you’re driving, biking, or hiking on that road, it’s really tough to get out of the ruts. You get stuck in the well-worn grooves that you or others have formed over the years. Which pant leg do you put on first? Do you brush first and then floss, or floss and then brush? How do you interlace your fingers? Good luck changing any of those habits. 

Except. 

Except when a flood washes out the road and you (and everyone else) is forced to bushwhack across new territory. Everything is thrown into turmoil, and the old habits no longer apply. When the road is gone, so is the rut.

 

Read the full article, Covid-19 Is The Best Thing To Happen To Your Company. Seriously., on the Markovitz consulting website. 

 

COVID-19 – Opportunity Expansion

 

Jennifer Hartz shares encouraging words on how the current COVID-19 situation provides the opportunity to learn, grow, and serve. 

Obviously, #COVID19 creates a number of significant problems in the world, our country, businesses, nonprofits, governments, and schools. This temporary situation, current trend, or permanent transformation is challenging. So, let’s look at the opportunities for people working or learning remotely or not employed full time to improve their lives as well as others’.

REMOTE WORK IS EXPANDING

Twitter announced that most employees don’t ever have to go back to the office. “Continue working from home, or anywhere else that makes them happy and productive, forever.” Google and Facebook have extended work from home (WFH) through the end of 2020. California State University Campuses will not open for Fall Semester; on-line classes continue.  Certainly, these organizations are not going to be alone in their shift from traditional offices and classrooms.

SADLY, UNEMPLOYMENT/UNDEREMPLOYMENT IS EXPANDING TOO

 

Read the full article, No Commute? Time for Service!, on the CorporateHartz website. 

 

Avoid these 21 Business Continuity Mistakes

 

David Burnie’s company has published a timely blog on the 21 common mistakes many companies make when rolling out their business continuity plan. 

A business continuity plan is essential for preventing and recovering from emergencies and incidents that can disrupt a business.

We recently shared our top 13 priorities for a strong BCP. While not having a BCP is a sure-fire pitfall to successful business continuity, there are other things to keep in mind. Here are some of the common pitfalls to look out for when executing business continuity plans.

 

The mistakes covered in the article include:

  • Business continuity preparation
  • Leadership
  • Communication approach
  • Processes
  • Systems failover
  • Budget

 

Read the full article, 21 Things Companies Do Wrong When Executing Business Continuity Plans, on the Burnie Group website. 

 

Golden Goose Economics and a Cautionary Tale of Greed

 

Jason George shares an origin story of management consulting and lessons from the barnyard to highlight the benefits of putting people and practice before personal profit. 

Marvin Bower faced a critical choice. He had led McKinsey & Company from its earliest years, in the process helping to define the fledgling field of management consulting. Now nearing retirement age, it was time to hand the reins to the next generation of leaders. As the principal shareholder in the partnership, Bower’s ownership stake was a gold mine, appreciating to many multiples of its value since his joining roughly thirty years prior.

To cash out he could sell to a third-party buyer interested in taking over operations. Alternatively, he could require the current partners of the firm to buy out his stake at market value. This would involve significant indebtedness that could constrain future agility.

Bower chose a radical, nearly unprecedented path. When the time came for him to step down as managing director, he elected to sell his shares back to the partnership at their nominal book value instead of their true market price. In the process he would forego a massive windfall, while also setting an example that would reverberate throughout the organization for decades to come. For Bower, a one-time gain was not worth more than investing in the culture and health of the institution he had laboriously built up.

 

Points of interest in this article include:

  • Bain & Company’s downturn
  • The twist in modern capitalism
  • Establishing the ownership structure for investing

 

Read the full article, How giving away value can create more, on Jason’s website.

 

Eight Survival Steps for Your Business

 

Amanda Setili shares eight steps you can take to mitigate stress and uncertainty during the current crisis. 

I’ve been astounded by the degree and speed of innovation and change these last few weeks.

Things that in normal times would have taken months or years to do have been accomplished in days, largely because people are banding together to help each other. In the midst of suffering, stress, and a good bit of fear, there is more kindness than ever.

And as a society, we’re learning faster than at any other time in my lifetime.

People have shifted to remote work, retailers have ramped up store pickup services, governments have created relief programs, factories have shifted to making personal protective equipment, the Army is building temporary hospitals, and scientists and regulators are speeding new treatments to market. It’s impressive.

 

The steps outlined include:

  • Supporting the needs of society
  • Employee retention
  • Customer support
  • Cashflow forecast

 

Read the full article, Innovation amid Stress and Uncertainty, on the Setili website.

 

Helping Leaders Make Ethical Decisions

 

During times of crises leaders must make the tough decisions, but choosing the right way to go is not always clear cut. Zaheera Soomar identifies three practical approaches to serve as guidelines for ethical decision-making.

During a recent conversation with a senior executive, she expressed a sentiment that many of us share: “When the pandemic has passed, I want to be able to say that, at the hardest of times, I did my best to do the right thing”. During this pandemic, leaders are expected to make difficult decisions with far-reaching consequences.

Ethical decision-making becomes even more important in times of crisis.

Leaders are constantly faced with ethical decisions, with all of the challenges associated with meeting the expectations of various stakeholders – investors, employees, customers, partners, regulators, local communities, and society at large. These decisions are rarely simple, bringing together financial considerations with deep-rooted beliefs about the right thing to do: Costco’s raising of its minimum wage, Woolworths’ decision to get out of liquor and gambling and Salesforce’s decision to bar certain firearms companies from using its services all represent tough decisions informed by ethics and values. Leaders must make decisions with limited knowledge, predicting their impact, and have confidence and trust that the compromises and trade-offs are the right ones.

 

Included in this article:

  • Align your decisions with your purpose
  • Follow agreed and actionable principles
  • Prioritise and plan your decisions and actions

 

Read the full article, Making Good Decisions in times of Crisis, on the Principia website. 

 

Welcoming new member Swan Sit

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Swan Sit.  wan Sit is an independent consultant specializing in digital, marketing and strategy. Having spent the past decade of her career accelerating digital into legacy companies, she held two key roles as a Vice President at Nike — overseeing Global Digital Marketing during the Emmy-winning “Dream Crazy” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, and running Digital Operations, Product, Supply Chain and Service for a $2B ecommerce business during the Air Jordan 11 Concord launch, the largest in online history. She led digital at Revlon and Elizabeth Arden, using it to pull them out of a turnaround, and ran online strategy for the Esteé Lauder Companies, increasing its digital footprint to 400+ sites across 50 countries in 5 years. From modernizing hundred-year-old brands and partnering with unexpected influencers like Chelsea Handler, Iris Apfel and Gigi Gorgeous, to launching augmented reality makeovers and driving double-digit growth, Swan has demonstrated both the left- and right-brain skills required for a marketer that drives revenue. She was selected as a Brand Innovators 40 under 40 and Marketing Woman to Watch, and took home both Best Social Campaign and Best in Show at the Glossy Awards. You might recognize her as one of the faces in Twitter’s national “She Inspires Me” campaign during the Oscars, or from judging the world’s largest hackathon in Saudi Arabia alongside Steve Wozniak.

Prior to beauty, Swan was a management consultant at Bain, owned an ad agency focused on emotional branding, was a product manager at Newell (she launched a factory in China during SARS) and created infamous marketing campaigns at Trilogy Software during the dotcom boom. Swan graduated with a BA in Economics from Harvard and an MBA from Columbia.

Swan does speaking engagements around the world on Marketing, Digital Transformation and Leadership in the Digital Age. She is a Board Director of a publicly-traded pharmaceuticals company, advises a variety of businesses and sits on the boards of industry and philanthropic organizations including AdWeek’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, L2 Digital Think Tank, Women in Retail, Consumer Goods Technology Council, Impact Network, Foundation Rwanda and Worldview’s space think tank. Having traveled to 85+ countries, her favorites include Antarctica, North Korea, Mongolia, Rwanda, Bhutan, Myanmar and Tanzania for Kilimanjaro. She can often be found smashing a volleyball and chasing restaurant openings, or flying around on skis and horses – her two newest hobbies.

When the Going Gets Tough…

 

Amanda Setili shares a post that identifies a few ways we can take positive action during the current crisis.

Billions of us worldwide are altering our behaviors during the covid 19 crisis, so that as many people as possible remain safe.

When faced with a tough situation—even something big, like the coronavirus situation—I always ask: how can we mitigate the downside, and create some good?

We are living in strange times, and things are changing every day. Schools are closed and colleges have sent students home; flights, conferences and events have been cancelled; millions of employees are suddenly working remotely. Events this spring are likely to change the way we think, plan and do business for years to come.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Customers
  • Employees, process and finance
  • Suppliers
  • Community
  • Innovation and agility

 

Read the full article, Finding the Positive, Even in Challenging Times, on the Setili website.

 

Four Risk Management Approaches to COVID-19

 

Vik Muktavaram recently published an article that evaluates the current crisis through four approaches of risk management.

“As the federal government finally took the first decisive step in stemming the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, the images of serpentine lines of arriving international passengers at airports waiting for immigration and screening for COVID-19 coronavirus ubiquitous online and in print. Presumably, the rationale for the screening was that these arriving passengers represented a high-risk cohort. Yet, the long, crowded lines with no social distancing not only defeats the very purpose of screening but in fact, one could argue that the risk of spreading is increased substantially amongst the ground staff as well as passengers from different airlines. 

 As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we should also be wondering how did we miss this when all the signs were there. How did some countries such as Singapore and South Korea manage to contain, if not necessarily prevent, the spread of virus in their countries despite their proximity to China? Risk Management is a structured way of looking at early indicators and prioritizing risks and then managing these risks. As our crisis response continues to be a case study in “how not to”, let’s take a step back to see how the risk (low likelihood, high impact) of a virus-pandemic became a crisis.”

 

The four approaches explored are:

  • Risk Transfer
  • Risk Acceptance
  • Risk Avoidance
  • Risk Mitigation

 

Read the full article, Covid-19 in the U.S. How a Risk became a Crisis, on the Rithym Advisors’ website. 

 

How to Overcome Resistance to Change

 

Jesse Jacoby shares a timeless post that explains how leaders can overcome overt and covert resistance to change. 

 

In your role as a leader, you will likely encounter resistance to change at some point from one or more of your own team members. Resistance may come from a variety of sources:

  • An individual with a difficult personality
  • Someone anxious about impending change
  • A person who disagrees with your vision

Resistance is usually demonstrated in one of four ways, each with the potential to create roadblocks for you:

  • Lack of Communication – Leaving you out of the loop in terms of key information or not discussing issues openly
  • Lack of Support – Foot-dragging on key initiatives you try to implement
  • Counterproductive Criticism – Being overly critical of you and your ideas
  • Passive Aggressive Behavior – Agreeing to do something, but then not doing anything

The steps to overcome resistance include:

  • Being alert to the signs of resistance
  • How to gain an understanding of the employee’s perspective
  • Defining  the positive behaviors you want to see, and be clear about your expectations
  • What to do if the resistance becomes habitual

 

Read the full article, How Leaders Can Manage Team Member Change Resistance, on the Emergent Journal website. 

 

How to Steer the Ship

 

David A. Fields identifies benefits consulting firms should focus on during this time of crisis.

There are so many voices fixated on the disaster unfolding around us, that you could easily be swept into a torrent of anxiety, fear and panic.

In truth, there is real reason for concern and you absolutely should heed the direction of medical leaders. At the same time, you and your consulting firm will benefit from a healthy dose of positive perspective.

If you ferociously cling to positive thought patterns while chaos is swirling around you, you and your consulting firm can maintain a clear head and promote forward progress.

Fortunately, there are many realistic, reliable reasons for you to feel upbeat.

Eight thought-starters are listed below, and I’ve left two spots open for you to fill in—one more than usual, because I know the entire consulting community will benefit from your inspiring thoughts.

 

Read the full article, 10 Positive Facts Your Consulting Firm Should Obsess over During this Crisis, on David’s blog. 

 

Managing the Call to Change

 

Luiz Zorzella shares key points that can help leaders evaluate and address their approach to change to ensure better outcomes. 

Strategy & Value

For the past 10 years, financial services firms have publicly acknowledged that they needed to change.  Chances are, your organization was one of those.

Commoditization meant a systematic erosion of margins for banks; reduction in interest rates has been challenging both interest and non-interest income sources of banks and investment firms as well as the economics of insurance; and technology has posed a constant threat of disintermediation and radical value-adding substitutes.

However, just like the proverbial frog in the heating water, most business leaders have responded incrementally – aiming at matching the pace of change they observed in the market and improving their results within the parameters of their existing business model.

The problem is that change has arrived and it does not look like we expected.  While COVID-19 ravages lives, economies and markets, clients and stakeholders alike are looking at financial service firms and asking that they help them weather the storm. They are calling you to change with them.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Find you calling
  • Evolve and decommodotize
  • Reforge your ways of working
  • Take the technology plunge

 

Read the full article, Is this Crisis Your Strategy Crucible, on the Amquant website.

 

Life after COVID-19

 

Surbhee Grover takes a moment to think about the future and how the Coronavirus will change the way we work and live.

 

Our lives, as we’ve known them, have come to a grinding halt. What will the world look like when the music starts again?

In the time we are not obsessing with COVID-19 updates, or trying to revive the business; ensure availability of dog food (and wine), and survive homeschooling, some of us are starting to wonder what the future holds. Here’s my initial take on what comes after. These are not analytical forecasts, nor predictions – it is too soon for that, the data is too sparse, things are still too raw, and emotions too fickle. These are merely anecdote and observation-inspired musings, intended as stimulus to spark a discussion.

 

Key areas covered in this article:

  • Work from home culture
  • Education
  • Relationships
  • The benefits for dogs, the drawback for cats

 

Read the full article on LinkedIn.

Thoughts on the Corona Situation and Work

 

Stefan Falk has summarized some of the key talking points across some 50+ coaching sessions on the Coronavirus topic, and more specifically on how to keep the people in the client organizations mentally healthy and productive in this demanding situation.

 

  1. The nature of the mental challenge for people

 

Isolation

Since most people will work from home and not move around as usual due to the risk of being infected, and because many of our natural places for socializing (restaurants, events, gyms, etc.) are unavailable, the risk to experience unhealthy levels of anxiety among people is potentially big due to the following anxiety drivers:

– People will consciously and subconsciously sense that they have lost their freedom(s) and are restricted

– People risk be less physically active

– People will potentially be exposed to less sensory stimuli which can lead to sensory deprivation; mild forms of sensory deprivation leads to irritation, frustration, and unhealthy rumination. Severe forms can lead to aggressiveness and violence.

 

Fear

There are real and perceived threats in this situation that can drive fear and anxiety.

One threat is obviously the virus itself (the risks that I will be infected and the risks that my friends and loved ones will be infected). Another equally obvious and potential threat is job and financial security.

Uncertainty

Right now the areas and levels of uncertainty for what will happen are high, for example:

– Even if I follow the guidelines from the authorities, is there a risk that I or my loved ones can be infected anyway?

– How deadly is the virus?

– How will this situation affect my company and my job?

– What will happen to my life savings?

– Are authorities really on top of the situation?

– How long will this crisis last?

As we all know, the human mind cannot deal with uncertainties – it needs to know. In the absence of robust answers to these and other perceived uncertainties, the mind creates its own answers, which most often tend to be imbalanced and geared toward worst-case scenario-answers.

 

  1. How to deal with the situation

 

Secure a high level of healthy activity

Few things strengthen our mental well-being as good work since it both keeps our mind focused and away from ruminating about our situation as well as gives us a sense of accomplishment (which makes us feel strong and in control). Also, we experience high levels of well-being when we apply our mental energy to problem-solving. People should therefore try to strive to:

  • Make sure to spend time to plan their days to secure a good level and flow of their work activities. In terms of boosting mental energy and well-being, it is good if they also think in terms of the desired results they want from their work activities.
  • Make sure to engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day – this could be broken down into 3 x 10 minutes; just 10 minutes of physical exercise, e.g., a brisk walk, gives us extra energy that lasts about 90 minutes.
  • Make sure to create a balance between routine and variety. It is good if people try to make each day different in terms of what they do or how they do things. It could be simple things like changing their morning routine, for example, what they do and in what order they do things. Variety can be an antidote to boredom and mild forms of sensory deprivation.

In addition to this, people should consider to rate each day on a scale 1-10 and then explain their rating with a sentence or two. This will help them strengthen their self-awareness as well as their sense of being in charge and in control.

 

Make sure leaders stay close to their people

For leaders, this situation could actually be an opportunity to get to know their people even better, since the main focus for a leader in this situation should be to make sure that their people stay sane, active and focused on the right things. And since telepathy is a “skill” most leaders don’t master, talking to their people should be the approach. And here the key is the frequency of these talks. Therefore, leaders could consider to:

  • Have brief daily check-ins in the morning or brief daily check-outs at end of the day, or both depending on the needs of their people.
  • In these check-ins and/or check-outs the leader, in general, should do less of the talking and instead ask questions and listen, for example, a) how does/did your day look? b) what are/were the most exciting results or insights you are looking for/achieved? c) what is the most interesting problem you will work on/worked on today?
  • Have a weekly team meeting where the team just share how they feel and what their most exciting results, insights and/or experiences have been the past week.

 

Identify and pursue “new” opportunities

There are a couple of opportunities that come to mind in this situation:

 

Improve people’s skills to have effective and efficient meetings

Having truly effective meetings is a common challenge for people even when those meetings happen face-to-face.

This challenge is even bigger when it comes to virtual meetings. There are a few things to consider in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of both virtual as well as face-to-face meetings:

  • There should be a tangible goal defined for the meeting, that is, what tangible results should the meeting lead to?
  • Each agenda topic should be defined in terms of how much time to spend on it and what concrete results should be achieved.
  • After discussing each topic, the next steps should be defined as well as what the tangible goal is with each next step.
  • The meeting material needs to be very clear, brief, and easy to understand, and circulated before the meeting.
  • Each participant needs to commit to reading the material before the meeting.
  • If a participant struggles to understand any of the meeting materials, he or she should try to reach out to the person responsible for the material before the meeting to get clarification. This is important in order to avoid having a meeting where people spend time understanding what they talk about or what they should talk about.

A good idea for leaders is to continuously ask their people what they learn about having virtual meetings, for example, what works well, what works less well, why, and what to do to fix it.

 

Go deeper, do things ahead of time, and/or explore new topics/issues

For some people, the situation we face could mean that they get some extra time due to less/no travel, fewer or shorter meetings, and/or that some priorities are pushed into the (uncertain) future. This then offers a couple of opportunities for them to consider:

  • Go deeper on the problems they currently work on than they usually do or solve issues that they usually have not had time to address, for example, an analysis that they do regularly that is very complicated to do and could be made easier.
  • Do things ahead of time, for example, things that they know they should do regardless of how long this crisis will last or how it will play out
  • Explore new areas or topics potentially important for their work, for example, spending time learning more about a new or current topic relevant to their work and that will also build their expertise

 

 

 

Measurements that Don’t Deliver Results

 

Dan Markovitz explains why some methods of measuring performance and quality seriously lack the data to make an impact.  

Pity the employees at a Starbucks in midtown NYC. In a misguided attempt to improve quality, the management posts monthly scores on a variety of metrics. . . without understanding anything about effective use of metrics. Measurement is a good idea, but only if it’s done well. These measurements? Not so much. 

If you read Mark Graban’s blog or book, you’ll immediately see problems with this chart. For one thing, three data points don’t make a trend. With no upper and lower control limits, the movement in scores is nothing more than management by emoji — we have no way of knowing whether the movement is just random noise in a stable system, or a real signal indicating something significant happened. And why are they looking at the scores monthly? By the time they see a decline, it’s far too late to figure out what the root cause was and how to address it.

 

Read the full article, When Leaders Torture Their Employees, on the Markovitz Consulting website.

 

What’s the Purpose of Your Strategic Plan?

February 22, 2020

 

Geoff Wilson gets straight to the point with some tough love in this article by asking if you to make sure your strategy inspires. 

The possibilities are endless.  Some might say that the sole purpose is to ‘enhance shareholder value.’  I’d argue that this old trope is no longer the gold standard. Some adhere to the stakeholder model…which might be closer.  Regardless of the ‘concept,’ a given business strategy has to appeal to a lot of people.

Strategy, inasmuch as it deals with things that are less certain and immediate, is an argument.  It’s an argument formed from assumptions that are (or should be) formed from knowable facts and less knowable (but educated) estimates.

But, something tends to happen on the way to building business strategies that derails one of the most important imperatives.  We lose the power of inspiration. Usually, we lose it when the hardcore management nerds get ahold of the strategic planning and implementation ‘ecosystem’ and start over whelming the organization with jargon, tools, and really smart pablum.

 

Read the full article, Are your people uninspired? Maybe it’s time to hang the DJ., on the Wilson Growth Partners website.

 

Switching off the Coronavirus

February 19, 2020

 

Miklos Tomka illuminates the importance of doing what you can to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.

The Coronavirus is spreading fast and has spread inside of hospitals in China, exposing hospital staff. Various places are a source for spreading infections, light switches that everyone touches, is clearly one of these.

Ubiquilux has developed a product to reduce the risk of infections spreading in hospitals: a gesture controlled light switch. A light switch which does not react to random motions like motion sensing switches do (it reacts only to specific on/off/dim gestures) – the first true replacement of any switch. No one has to touch the light switch anymore

An independent, expert lead clinical study confirms that the new (patented) gesture-controlled technology from Ubiquilux is reducing bacterial load on the surface of a light switch (the light switch is a widely documented contributor of infection transmission).

 

Read the full article, Are you doing everything to protect yourself, your colleagues and your patients from the Coronavirus?, on LinkedIn.

 

Talent, Culture, and Company

 

It takes more than talent to become a valued employee in today’s workplace. Sherif El Henaoui identifies the benefits of finding the right fit. 

Top people are desired. Every company wants them: the intelligent, creative, endurable, high-performance worker. Since this desired workforce is rare, there is a “war” as suggested by the HR literature. I once heard a quote of a McKinsey partner commenting on the Internet bubble crisis saying, “We won the war for talent, but we ended up with too many prisoners.”

Cultural fit

We want to suggest a more peaceful view on the matter. High-performance is also a result of the cultural fit. This applies to societies and corporations. An aggressive, forward-looking sales professional works well in one type of company but is perceived as too pushy and less collegial in another. Is that the fault of the employee?

 

Read the full article, Fight Your Own War for Talent, on LinkedIn.

How UPS Inspired Employee Innovation

Amanda Setili shines a light on an initiative that sparked employee engagement, inspired innovation, and motivated collaboration. 

 

What does a 110-year-old company do to increase the rate of innovation from less than one new business per year to 50? 

The answer, says David Lee, Vice President of Innovation and New Ventures at UPS, is to launch a program that taps into the brilliant growth ideas lurking in the heads of many of its 480,000 employees. 

The program is called Upstarts, and it invited employees to “in five pages or less, tell us your idea for growth.” 

To spur interest, Lee’s team held mixers in cities around the world, from Shanghai, to Neuss, Germany, to Toronto and Miami. Employees heard what UPS was hoping to achieve through the program, and how they could contribute. 

“It’s not just about ideas,” Lee explains. “It’s about finding teams of passionate, talented people.

 

Read the full article, Upstarts Kick-Start the Pace of Innovation at UPS, on Amanda’s website.

A Most Common Problem in Lean Manufacturing

Dan Markovitz reveals a common problem that lean programs often face. 

 

Boeing’s Starliner failed an important test flight two weeks ago. It was supposed to rendezvous with the International Space Station, but was unable to reach the correct orbit.  

The problem with this engineering marvel? Not the complex aerodynamics, not the critical separation from the Atlas V rocket, not the all-important re-entry heat shield. 

No, the problem was with the internal clock. The spacecraft’s internal clock became unsynced with the overall “mission elapsed timing” system, so the Starliner failed to fire its engines at the correct time to reach orbit.  

So—a $5 billion project was undone by something that your $10 Casio watch could handle. 

Does your lean program face the same problem?

 

Read the full article, Boeing Starliner Failure: lessons for your lean program, on Dan’s company blog.

How to Create a Dynamically-Charged Team through Conflict

December 9, 2019

Susan Drumm identifies how conflict can achieve greater results when it grows from cognitive diversity and provides a few factors that can help you build a cognitively diverse team.

 

When you imagine an incredibly effective, successful team meeting, what does it look like?

For some people, it looks like this: One person talking while everyone nods. Someone is taking notes while muttering, ‘Yes, I think so too!’ The leader wraps the meeting by asking, ‘So we’re all in agreement?’ And everyone cheers, ‘Yes!’

Now, I love a smoothly run meeting as much as the next person, but I also know you do not want a completely conflict-free team. It’s not good for your company (or your clients or margins) to be staffed exclusively by people who share the same worldview, the same personality type, or the same approach to business.

In fact, every company would benefit from hiring for cognitive diversity — even if it creates conflict.

Why? Because the conflict that arises from cognitive diversity is good conflict.

It’s conflict that results in better products, happier customers, more effective systems, and fewer missteps.

 

Points covered in this article include:

-What cognitive diversity is

-Types of conflict that arise from cognitive diversity

-How to make sure you have a cognitively diverse team

 

Read the full article, Why You Need Cognitive Diversity on Your Team – Even if it Leads to Conflict, on the Meritage website.

The Argument for Going to the Gemba

Dan Markovitz provides a reality check on the concept of management by walking around (MBWA); how the leaders at organizations embracing lean take a different approach, and why the latter is better than the former.

Theodore Kinni argues in Strategy + Business that leaders must practice management by walking around (MBWA), a concept popularized by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their seminal book, In Search of Excellence. That’s the best way for them to stay connected to their businesses and understand what’s really happening with their customers. As Peters puts it, “The real meaning [of MBWA] was that you can’t lead from your office/cubicle.”

I’ve got no problem with the concept—after all, it’s similar to the lean precept of genchi gembutsu, or going to the gemba.

But here’s the problem with MBWA: it’s essentially unstructured.

 

Read the full article, Please, Not Another Argument for MBWA, on Dan’s website.